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Starting on Friday, August 15th, GWAR and its fans will be going through something they’ve never done before. While the 5th Annual GWAR-B-Q will take place the following day, it’ll be the first one they’ll be doing without Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, the mouthpiece of the band who died from an accidental overdose earlier this year. Instead, the night before, there will be a public memorial for Brockie, followed by a night of metal. Drummer Brad Roberts, aka Jizmak Da Gusha, took some time out from planning the festival to talk about what shape GWAR will take post-Brockie, new music from the band, and putting on the festival despite his passing.
There’s one big reason why this year’s GWAR-B-Q is different. Aside from that, how have you upped the ante from previous years?
Well this year is amazing. The lineup gets heavier and heavier every year. More artists hear about the previous ones and then they are like “we gotta do that,” and they’re all friends and family of GWAR, people we’ve known for a long time. We try to start there with anybody we know of, or that we respect, we try to, I don’t know, people hear about it and they’re like “we gotta play that.” I’ve been trying to get Hatebreed on it for a couple of years and we just wait until the schedules align, and each year is bigger and better. The fans respond, they know the line-up is gonna be great. Obviously this year is gonna have a significance to it with the passing of Dave Brockie, Oderus Urungus , we’re doing a memorial August 15th, the Friday before the Gwar-B-Q in his honor. It’s from 4pm to 7pm at Hadad’s Lake in Richmond, Virginia. That event is gonna be well attended and free to the public, and now, the 5th annual GWAR-B-Q, has become not just a great festival, but a chance for all the real hardcore GWAR fans from across the globe to come pay their last respects to the man, the myth, and the legend of Dave Brockie and Oderus Urungus.
I gotta ask, it’s gonna be your first show playing without him. Was there ever a point where the band was gonna call it quits without him?
Well, GWAR is way bigger than the sum of the parts. Just its overall aura, and influence on American culture and all kinds of realms other than music is noted. Dave was talking about it, Oderus Urungus was talking about it in several interviews, our intention is that GWAR will last 1,000 years. It’s always moving forward, and even though that is super tough to swallow on a personal level at those moments, we always know that GWAR is this train that’s just gonna keep rolling. It just has to, and what better way to honor Dave Brockie’s creative juggernaut and ensure that GWAR will continue. Our creative pool here just doesn’t involve a band; it’s bigger than that, and all the ex-Scumdogs members that aren’t in the band anymore. We all folded in as a family and we started to cultivate “okay, what is going to be the next incarnation of GWAR” as we approach the 30 year anniversary of GWAR in 2015. We know that there is still life in it. He was our fearless leader of course. It’s really nice to create again with some of the older members that are coming back to the fold now in light of this event with Dave.
So I would imagine the former members are more of a one-off sort or something which is really special for the GWAR-B-Q. You’re also playing Riot Fest, have you figured out what incarnation of the band is going to be playing for that?
Yeah, I mean, we have Mike Bishop, the original Beefcake bass player of GWAR. He’s coming back to fold to do some singing duties, but Balsac, Pustulus, Beefcake, they’re all singing. Cyborg, Destructo, Bone Snapper, all the GWAR characters have songs to fill in, and we’ve kind of taken the idea back to the original, old school, Scumdogs idea. Where Oderus, he was just the anchor, there were so many characters and so many different people singing songs, and so much action and gore and death on the stage in the old days that it wasn’t like it was more recently, where we stripped away all of that and made Oderus the focal point. The old Scumdogs of GWAR, there’s chaos everywhere, and Oderus is just the anchor to it. So we’re kind of going back to the old format, embracing it. The stage shows will be wilder, and more chaos probably than you’ve seen in a lot of years. We kind of stripped it away into a pretty good heavy metal band that had some cool gore to it, and I think it’s gonna be more involved now. Certainly all of the plot development that we’ve done for the upcoming shows and the tours is leading it that way. It’s really exciting, it’s interesting. I think people are going to respond to it. No one would respect us if we just threw another guy in the costume and said “Oh here’s Oderus’ replacement.” There is no way to replace Dave Brockie, not in a million years. We decided to go back to our roots and get back the old members and reconvene as a creative collective and put forth the GWAR that we think is going to be the incarnation of it for the 30th anniversary and beyond.
Do you have touring plans yet beyond the two shows that you’re playing at Riot and GWAR-B-Q?
Yeah, there will be a fall US/Canadian tour from GWAR this year, and it will address the mythos of what happened to Oderus Urungus and give the fans, the GWAR fans that we love so much, a way to come pay their last respects and see the band that they love. It’s an exciting time, and it’s also scary because it’s a daunting task, but GWAR is always up to the challenge. We gotta saw off a couple heads to get there, no problem.
I’d imagine with the most recent album coming out last year and the loss, there’s no new material on the horizon?
Well actually there is. We’re approaching 30 year anniversary, there’s talk of boxed products that will come from GWAR, and with Mike Bishop coming back in, we’re definitely writing some new songs and we’ll have something to show that GWAR is moving forward, and it’s not stopping. Of course we’re in very much support of Battle Maximus record, which we’re all proud of and still need to bring that show to a lot of towns in the country, but I would say you will see some new stuff from GWAR coming up. Absolutely, especially because it’s the 30 year anniversary, we’re gonna blow that thing out. What other bands are out there and not old men drooling and pooping in their pants that can say they have been around for 30 years.
[Laughs] Good. Are there any bands you are particularly excited to see play at the GWAR-B-Q?
I mean, everybody is really hyped up because they know Body Count is coming, and Ice-T, and CoCo, who smells terrific.
But a lot of that stuff for us is the brotherhood, we love seeing Hatebreed and our boys there, there’s a ton of local bands. One in particular, Loincloth, some amazing musicians in that band. Kepone, hometown favorite. Bam Margera. These are all people that are in the GWAR family, we’ve either toured with them or we know ‘em personally. Misfits with Jerry Only, man they’re our old touring buds. This thing is just a huge reunion of all the familiar faces. A lot of these bands came to the forefront, and wanted to chip in for the because of the memorial with Dave and everything, but they were already on the list, old touring buddies. Iron Reagan. It’s just endless, this is gonna be a facemelter. You’re just gonna stuff your face with so much meat and GWAR beer all day and get your face melted off by these kickass bands. I can’t even wait for it, I’m excited to see almost every single one of ‘em and I know I won’t get to because I have obligations that day.
Give me the update on the GWAR Bar.
Oh, the GWAR Bar, the slaves are over there now, busy cleaning toilets and scraping paint and caulking holes. It’s in its construction phase right now, but there’s been a lot of great hype on it. GWAR is definitely excited about it. The GWAR Bar was an idea many moons ago, and more recently pioneered by Dave Brockie and one of his high school buddies who was a restaurateur. We started cultivating it for real, we always thought that a GWAR dungeon bar would be awesome, but we were very busy doing GWAR and being a band that we never pursued that. What do we know about the restaurant business, other than we like to go order the meal and eat? GWAR we’re the savages, we don’t know anything about the restaurant business, so it wasn’t until just recently. We were looking for a location for the last year and right before the end of last year we found a location and we started to work on that. And that was Dave’s big thing, he thought that was just the greatest way for GWAR to break out of some entertainment business and go into another business realm, and grow another tentacle off the puss-y, complex, weird monster that GWAR is.
Excellent. Does it seem like there is a little more of a scene in Richmond these days?
Yeah, Richmond is exploding; it’s going through a renaissance. There’s tons of great bands, tons of great food, tons of great art and artists, musicians. It’s amazing here, and GWAR is right at the epicenter of all of that because everyone around knows that GWAR was here doing it’s music and art in the 80’s when there was no interest in it. Now to still be around, still be relevant, in a town like Richmond, that we’ve always given and pledged our allegiance to, and supported, even when there was no support for us, in the art community or the music scene. Now, it’s just great. There’s a group or generation of people, of kids, and even older people that are realizing how important art, and culture, and music is to a town. This is kind of a place, you know, the south is kind of a little repressed, and in the 80’s when GWAR started, it wasn’t concerned with that thing. It was the Reagan era, they weren’t concerned with how great art and music, or a park, is to the society of a city. They didn’t care about that stuff, and it seemed that Richmond, there was always a little subculture and faction of people that really did care about that, and GWAR was in there. Now that group of people is just growing en mass. It’s a really fun place to be, I always thought it was a great place to live and it’s definitely had to have a place like Richmond and how strange it is, for a southern town, to spawn a thing like GWAR.
Yeah, it seems like between you guys and Lamb of God, you’ve planted the seeds for a healthy rock and metal scene, and it seems, to go with that analogy, the flowers are sprouting all over the place.
Yeah, absolutely. You got bands like Lamb of God, Municipal Waste, and us, kind of putting Richmond on the map. We’ve been doing it for a lot of years, and Lamb of God more recently. What can you say about that? No one knew, right? We all knew. Everybody things good bands gotta come from LA or New York, but I’m here to tell you music in Richmond, between DC and North Carolina in the 1980’s hardcore scene that happened between those cities, and we’re right in the middle of that in Richmond. That was an important time in music, that 80’s hardcore scene, and it inspired all of us. Speaking of musicianship here, I’ll put it against anyone in the world. The level of talent, and just how interesting, and the depth of it is amazing.